MONTPELIER (AP) -- Associated Press reporters and a photographer based in Vermont have won the Charles Rowe Award for Distinguished State Reporting for multimedia coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.
The award was among those announced Monday by the Associated Press Media Editors association for journalism excellence by AP staffers.
The award went to reporters John Curran, Wilson Ring, Dave Gram and Lisa Rathke, and photographer Toby Talbot.
Curran, Montpelier correspondent, died less than two weeks after Irene hit. His coworkers were not only left with the loss of a leader, colleague and friend with his death, but without anyone to fill his role as the state faced its biggest reporting challenge. Undaunted, they set the coverage of the aftermath of Irene as their ownership story for the year, showing unrelenting commitment to serve the AP’s members and customers.
"The digital-first approach and resiliency made this entry one of the most inspiring in a talented field," the judges said.
The storm, which killed six in Vermont, cut off nearly a dozen communities there from the outside world -- making islands of mountain villages as it dumped 11 inches of rain. It damaged or destroyed more than 500 miles of roads and a similar number of houses and left thousands homeless. Among other memorable stories, Curran convinced teenagers on ATVs to take him into the cut-off town of Rochester so he could describe what residents there were experiencing in the immediate aftermath of the flood.
The Vermont staff has since chronicled Irene’s effect on farmers, schools, patients in a mental hospital and the families of people buried in a cemetery washed out by the flood, to name just a few.
APME is an association of editors at newspapers, broadcast outlets and journalism educators and student leaders in the United States and Canada. It works closely with the AP to foster journalism excellence.
The award recognizes distinguished reporting in the state bureaus. It is given in the name of Charles Rowe, a former APME president and an influential figure in newspapering until his retirement as co-publisher and editor of The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va.